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PACBI-A Letter to the Director of Edinburgh International Festival


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Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid | 20 July 2012

A Letter to the Director of Edinburgh International Festival

The campaign Don't Dance with Israeli Apartheid  has written the following letter to Jonathan Mills, Director of the Edinburgh Festival:

Jonathan Mills
Festival Director
Edinburgh International Festival

Dear Mr Mills,

The 'Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid’ campaign protests in the strongest terms about the invitation to Batsheva Dance Company to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival 2012. You should be aware that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), have called since 2004, for a boycott of all cultural performers and exhibiters that are institutionally linked to the Israeli state. PACBI is part of a broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was called in 2005 by nearly 200 Palestinian civil society organisations. These campaigns allow individuals, organisations and indeed festival directors across the world to make a difference and help bring an end to the regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid that has been imposed by Israel upon the Palestinian people for 64 years. We all have a duty to act because our governments fail in their obligation to act. There should be no normalisation, no 'business as usual’ with states that practice apartheid. The tactic of boycott was legitimate and effective in helping to end apartheid in South Africa and it can make a significant contribution in countering the latest manifestation in Israel/Palestine.

You should be aware that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps to fund international tours for Batsheva and states boldly on its website that it is 'the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture.’ Batsheva willingly collaborates with the propaganda exercise, known as 'Brand Israel', which was conceived by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This cynically aims to present positive spin about Israel and whitewash its oppressive regime and human rights abuses. According to Arye Mekel of MFA, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits... This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

Without question, Batsheva meets the criteria set by PACBI for boycott action and it is for this reason that we are calling on you to withdraw its invitation to perform at this year’s festival. Batsheva was targeted for protest throughout its North American tour earlier this year because of its complicity with the Israeli state and the Brand Israel deception. If their appearances at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and on tour in the UK in October and November 2012 go ahead, it will be imperative that these occasions are also used for similar protests.

We would always reject any suggestion that culture inhabits a world disconnected from politics. The efforts of 'Brand Israel’ give incontrovertible evidence of how these matters are inseparable. In any society cultural activities can be provided on a discriminatory basis, promoted and funded for some groups but denied to others. Hana Awaad, a long-time member of El Funoun, one of Palestine’s premier dance troupes has stated, 'Whilst Israeli artists and performers have freedom to tour, exhibits and performances by Palestinian artists are systematically banned, sabotaged and closed down by the Israeli occupation. Artists themselves are targets of violence, arbitrary arrests and deportations. Israel’s 3 tiered system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid ruthlessly suffocates the livelihoods of Palestinian communities, including the right to artistic and cultural expression.’ The restrictions faced by Palestinian performers however only mirror the experience endured by all Palestinians. Every aspect of life is affected by Apartheid Israel’s mechanism of control which involves hundreds of checkpoints, permit systems, curfews, closures of roads and villages, the apartheid wall, imprisonment and military force.

We also reject any suggestion that 'balancing’ appearances of Palestinian and (state sponsored) Israeli performers can ever be acceptable. Apartheid is not about equal forces facing each other. It is an aggravated and state directed form of racial discrimination in which one group dominates and oppresses another. Palestinian performers involved in tours or festivals achieve this in spite of the restrictions and discrimination that they face. As Bishop Desmond Tutu famously stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor…..”

The Edinburgh International Festival is one of the most prestigious arts festivals in the world, and we believe that it should be, unambiguously, on the side of justice and human rights for all. This means opposing Apartheid Israel and those who act as ambassadors for this state. We call on you to withdraw the invitation to Batsheva Dance Company.

Yours sincerely,

Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid

______________________________________________________________ 

Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid is a campaign endorsed by the following individuals and organisations:

Individuals
Raymond Deane, Composer
Ilan Pappe, Academic
Raja Shehadeh, Writer, Winner Orwell Prize 2008
Walid Salhab, Film maker, Best World Peace Relations (short film), Cannes 2012
Tam Dean Burn, Actor
Moshe Machover, Academic
John Pilger, Journalist
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Yvonne Ridley, European President, International Muslim Women’s Union
Hagit Borer, Academic
Mike Marqusee, Writer

Palestinian and Israeli Organisations
Boycott From Within
Alternative Information Centre
Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Stop the Wall

Scottish organisations
San Ghanny
We Are All Hana Shalabi
Tayside for Justice in Palestine

Scottish Jews for a Just Peace
Radio Ramadan Edinburgh (RRE)
Scottish Friends of Palestine
Friends of Al Aqsa – Edinburgh
Friends of Al Aqsa – Glasgow
Iona Community
Muslim Association of Britain (Scotland)
Students for Palestinian Rights (Glasgow Caledonian University)
St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students,
Glasgow University Palestine Society
Strathclyde University Students for Justice in Palestine
Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine
Dundee Trades Council
Kilmarnock & Loudon Trades Council
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Protest in Harmony

UK organisations
Artists Against Apartheid  (UK)
International Solidarity Movement London
Boycott Israel Network
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG)
Stop the Jewish National Fund campaign
ISM London
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
IQRA Academy
Friends of Al Aqsa – UK
British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP)
Leeds University Palestine Society
Sheffield university Palestine Society Group
University of  Birmingham Students for Justice in Palestine
University of Liverpool Palestine Society,
Merton & Sutton TUC 
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (UK)
Israel Committee against House Demolitions UK
Newcastle PSC
Polish Campaign of Solidarity with Palestine 

European organisations
Association Belgo-Palestinienne (ABP)
PalestinaSolidariteit (Belgium)
Service Civil International Belgium 
BDS France

BDS Italia
Irland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Associazione Amici Della Mezza Luna Rossa Palestinese
Associazione di Amicizia Italo-Palestinese Onlus
Rete Radié Resh
Rete Romana di Solidarietà con il Popolo Palestinese 

Un ponte per …
WILPF Italia, Lega internazionale delle donne per la pace e la libertà
Netherlands Palestine Committee

Palestinakomiteen I Norge
BDS Switzerland

Organisations from elsewhere and international organisations

Friends of Palestine – Western Australia
Sydney Peace Foundation
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver, Canada)  
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Canada)
Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Don't Play Apartheid Israel
Palestinian Human Rights Campaign

Indpendent Jewish Voices-Canada

BDS South Africa 
South African Artists Against Apartheid 
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Labor for Palestine (US)

United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel   

http://no2brandisrael.org/?q=article/our-letter-festival-director

Posted on 21-07-2012


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